The ability to capture data from multiple sources, quickly link by key fields and quickly analyse in a dashboard proved to be such powerful features that we reduced the use of Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access almost entirely for any kind of reconciliations.
I worked in a financial institution having most data in mainframes but also having extracts and datasets put into various places from highest quality Oracle and MS SQL server objects right down to MS Access/Excel and continuing to Text File output.
Sometimes for either quality control purposes daily or some other kind of reconciliation or verification, QlikView was great for a basic end user with minimal skill to bring that data in and map it as necessary to achieve the desired result. (Often the datasets easily map via a couple of primary fields that the business users understand and outside developers may not understand without a business analyst specification)
Most times making that ad hoc effort a template of some sort and making mundane roles like daily recons be easily achievable.
Doing this same work in MS Excel or MS Access can be tricky and dangerous and not be as intuitive for non-technical people. Doing it other ways can end up being too much effort with hiring developers and building systems and paying for a lot of developer man-hours when a quick QV dashboard does the trick by the business end user.
Improvements to My Organization
This product improved how my organization conducted repeatable analyses, such as a user access internal audit review for 500 users over 100,000 user ID and system access across 50-100 systems. My first project before we had QlikView took about a month, but after we rewrote the procedure using QlikView, it was much better and took about a week. We pretty much used the same raw data, but the report and analysis was so much quicker.
The process of gathering the data and using Microsoft Access used to take a month or so. Certainly, using QlikView as an ad-hoc tool is very powerful, yet easy. Comparing it to development on Microsoft Access, it feels about 10 times quicker. You go from raw data almost directly to reporting. (Skipping the hassle of lots of queries, forms, and slow report creation.)
As they say, "Seeing is Believing”.
Room for Improvement
While it used to be extremely easy to work with for me, at least the basics, some other folks used to have a bit more trouble using it. I think that it might be useful if the first-time user wizard was a bit better. It might help people get the “Eureka “ moment on their own. I always felt that the wizard was not really worth using, and I started people off with making their own import scripts with my help. Others also seemed to believe that as well.
I think the wizard could take a bit more time and provide training along the way. For example, show the data to be imported, and go over some of the best practices. And maybe continue on with going over the Edit Script and hit some of the basics there as well and so on.
I think all things are covered in the tutorial, but I had very little success having people use the tutorials.
Some aspects are so common, and used so much:
- Basic import of data, load, review the field names that come in, set your fields as “what you want”
- Import a different table, review as in step 1, but check for synthetic links, do your “AS” statements to clean up, and get the linkages you want, etc.
- Then have some wizard to make tables and charts in the same way, etc.
I do these things with new users inside of a couple of hours, including usually helping tham make their first solution.
Use of Solution
I used QlikView for five years.
Never has this been a problem, but mostly in our company, we focused on using QlikView standalone.
We had tons of core and server architectures, and QlikView was used to improve reconciliation and quality control.
Ultimately, there is great power in using QlikView to be an enterprise solution (in the right context). But the user base was able to get so much productivity out of our approach.
And to get an enterprise solution in place required a budget and resources, which we did not have.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Technical support is excellent, the user groups are really good, and outside of that, there are excellent web resources via YouTube (e.g. AnswerSharks) that have evolved.
In reference to user training, I sent people to these sources even more than to QlikTech themselves.
I left my firm just before QlikTech was finally given the go-ahead to design some product solutions for us. (Having ad-hoc users design things worked, but it was time to get more polished internal- and customer-facing solutions to take us to the next level.)
As a global firm, we actually looked at many products, even signing a multi-year contract with a QV competitor (Tibco Spotfire, but the enemy of efficiency for analysis is MS Excel).
For SpotFire, it was always my opinion that that deal was done on a golf course, because QlikView over the years was the better product by far (certainly, all users loved it) versus the other product, which very few users understood, and certainly users did not show anywhere near as much affection for it.
We went for standalone licenses in the beginning of about six, and over several years the license count grew to 60. When I left the company in late 2015, we were looking finally getting a server.
I do not know the status now, but the company should have been given serious thought to getting a server, and perhaps converting some of the licenses to QlikSense.
A vendor team implemented it, but it was more like a sales team. We just asked for more licenses and put the server deployment on hold for way too long.
Although users were very happy, the cross-division expansion that I felt was possible never happened.
The biggest problem out there is that most people keep thinking, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I believe that people use MS Excel way too much, and that is a symptom that something is broken.
Also, I used QV to pull data out of core systems often whenever reconciliations were questioned. (Analyzing the source directly is better than another Excel spreadsheet.)
We pretty much measured our success in man-hours saved or efficiency gains:
- We did not aim high, but certainly, I put together a number of solutions that worked flawlessly, and could save between 1-3 hours every day.
- More importantly, we applied this analysis tool, were able to benefit from very high quality analysis and recon, improving employer quality of life.
QlikView requires a little bit of “handholding”, which was provided via a small expert group at my last employer. (Originally, we got to a “Yeah, I get it”, Eureka moment after one or two two-hour, on-site visits from the sales support team. Add a phone call or two.)
I would suggest that while returns on efficiency would be quick, it is worth it to consider expanding the user group sooner, and having a strategy to grow the user bases very early on. I compared this tool to the over-use of MS Excel and MS Access to attempt to do similar things in my organization.
And while we saved lots of time and effort in the areas that QlikView was used, the real target I had was to take PowerPoint off its pedestal for management reporting.
We never quite got there, but I envisioned that dynamic usable reports was a much loftier goal than death by PowerPoint. (But it must be said that lots of executives love their PowerPoint, which has continued to mystify me.)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jul 02 2016